Signature Cold Coffee Creations Charge Up Beverage Menus

By Eric Nakata

Signature Cold Coffee Creations Charge Up Beverage Menus

Cold brew and iced coffee easily stand on their own and have their devotees. But as the foundation for soft drinks, cocktails, frappes and other creations, they have the potential to add premium options and interest to beverage menus. By developing signature drinks around these two styles of coffee, operators can capitalize on steadily rising demand—and capture sales from a growing base of cold brew aficionados.

Fans of cold brew coffee—especially millennials—are dedicated and ready to pay a premium for the beverage. They are more likely to choose coffee shops and restaurants versus retailers to quench their thirst for their cold brew. And while the main reason cold brew drinkers prefer it is taste, only about one out of ten drink it black—the rest customize it, typically with milk, cream, flavorings and sweeteners.

The habit of customizing creates an opportunity for operators. Cold brew and iced coffee drinks can add a new dimension to beverage menus across dayparts, from breakfast through lunch, dinner, snacking occasions and dessert. Here are a few ways to get chill with coffee:

Cold brew tonics and sodas

Cold brew tonics and sodas: The formula is deceptively simple: roughly one part cold brew concentrate mixed with two parts sparkling/tonic/seltzer/soda water. Turning this refreshing concoction into a signature item involves a bit more creativity. Adding citrus, for instance—especially lemon—can bring out natural citrus flavor notes already in the coffee. Creative baristas have added rosemary, cherries, pomegranate molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, lavender, rose water and other flavored syrups to create a more complex beverage.

While cold brew is typically less acidic than regular brewed coffee, the quinine in tonic water is especially good at smoothing out any remaining acidic qualities. If you’re experimenting, remember: fizzy water first, coffee next, or you might end up with a bubbly mess.

Frozen lattes and frappes

Frozen lattes and frappes: For customers looking to upgrade their frappuccinos, cold brew–based frozen lattes and frappes offer a more sophisticated alternative. These adult shakes blend ice with cold coffee and other flavors. Recipes incorporating chocolate, vanilla, house-made or commercially available flavored syrups, coconut milk and other enhancers elevate cold brew to an indulgent new dimension. Using sugar-free and low-fat versions of additions keeps frozen drinks within the skinny realm; a whipped cream topping takes them into indulgent territory. And frozen drinks can acquire year-round appeal with seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and peppermint.

Cocktailing with coffee

Cocktailing with coffee: The savory profile of coffee provides an ideal foil to balance out sweeter ingredients in alcoholic beverages and mocktails. Martinis, Manhattans, Negronis, hot toddies and other drinks take on a new dimension and energy with the addition of cold brew. Mixologists have capitalized on coffee’s versatility by pairing it with such diverse cocktail elements as Grand Marnier, simple syrup and champagne (Beatrix, Chicago); rye, apricot, orange citrate and egg (Ace Hotel, Los Angeles) rum, vanilla syrup and stout (Polite Provisions, San Diego) and many more. Some mixologists have even toyed with replacing the alcohol with cold brew concentrate in sophisticated mocktails such cold brew sours (mixed with simple syrup and lemon) and mint juleps (mixed with mint and simple syrup).

Featuring cold brew in soft drinks, frozen concoctions and cocktails/mocktails can tap into the growing demand for this style of coffee—while adding premium menu choices throughout the day.